by Dan Kinvig
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The Red Deer College Kings saw their season come to an end at the hands of their arch-nemesis, the Mount Royal Cougars.
The two ACAC conference rivals clashed in a consolation-side game at the men’s volleyball national championships at Columbia Bible College on Saturday morning, with a spot in the bronze medal game on the line.
The Kings, coming off a tough four-set loss to the Humber Hawks in the semifinals on Friday, got off to a great start, winning the first set in decisive fashion, 25-18.
But it was all Cougars from there – they took the next three sets 25-15, 25-20 and 25-21, and went on to beat the host CBC Bearcats later in the evening to claim the bronze.
Red Deer ended up in fifth, the exact same spot they finished at nationals last year.
“We actually came out pretty strong,” Kings coach Aaron Schulha said afterward.
“We caught Mount Royal sleeping a little bit (in the first set), but they built a little bit of a lead on us in the second and we never really regrouped from there.
“We started to make some errors early, and talking to our guys afterward, they started thinking about the errors they made late in sets last night (against Humber). A little bit of doubt, a little bit of anger crept in, and unfortunately we let it get to us a little bit.”
Quentin Schmidt paced the Kings with 16 kills, while Boston Maris chipped in with nine kills and Tucker Leinweber and Sean Tuff had seven apiece.
Three Cougars notched double-figure kills – Jordan Parkin (14), Colton deMan (13) and Dan Durham (13).
Looking ahead to next season, Schulha noted he’s losing a big chunk of his starting lineup, including Schimdt (UBC Thunderbirds) and setter Jackson Maris (Calgary Dinos), who are bound for the CIS.
“But we have a few recruits that have already committed, and we’re a pretty deep squad, so some of our bench guys are ready to step in,” he said. “I’m confident that we’ll push for a conference championship and give ourselves a shot at a national championship again.”